Navigating Legal Contracts as a Nutritionist: What You Need to Know About Group Coaching Agreements
In this blog post, we are going to cover what you need to know about a group coaching agreement contract. Before we dive into what you need to know about group coaching agreements, let’s first cover why you want to consider adding group coaching to your business mode.
Why Offer Group Coaching?
Group coaching programs are an important tool for health, wellness, and nutrition professionals to grow their business.
First, group coaching programs allow you to take many more clients than if you offered only 1:1 sessions, thereby allowing you to grow your bottom line.
Second, group coaching programs allow you to have a much greater reach within your community since you can extend your offerings to more people. Clients often love having a group coaching option since it can usually provide a more cost-friendly manner to receive your services. As a result, offering group coaching may allow certain clients access to you who would not have access otherwise.
Third, group coaching can have such a social benefit by allowing you to establish a sense of community amongst the members of your group program. The community can be a powerful tool to build accountability and friendship.
Considerations when Designing a Group Coaching Program
Once you’re convinced that adding a group coaching program could be a fit in your own business, the next step will be to develop the details around how you want to structure your program.
It is critical to have these details thought through so that you can deliver an effective program. Also, you’ll need to incorporate the structure of your group coaching program into your contract terms (which we’ll get into more in the section below).
We really enjoyed this article by Lesli Bitel detailing “How to Run a Group Nutrition Program” and would recommend reading it as you brainstorm your structure.
Why Do I Need a Group Coaching Agreement?
If you are going to offer a group coaching program, it is critical that you have an attorney-drafted group coaching agreement in place so that you can minimize misunderstandings and conflicts and so that you can ensure that your coaching program runs smoothly and effectively. Happy clients and customers are key to growth of any business.
We’ve described below some of the provisions that you should consider making sure you address in your group coaching program contracts. If you want a DIY template that is already “done-for-you”, then consider purchasing our attorney-drafted Group Coaching Agreement template and have your agreement in place in minutes. Our template agreement incorporates all of the topics addressed below (plus many others).
Scope of Services
In your group coaching contract, you will have the opportunity to clearly define the scope of services that you will offer. For example, how many sessions will be included in the program? What is the length of the sessions? What will be covered in the sessions? Will you offer any 1:1 add-ons? Will the sessions be in person or virtual? As part of the brainstorming process mentioned above, you can think about what you want your program to look like and then match the description of your scope of services to fit accordingly.
As part of a group coaching program, you may want your clients to have certain responsibilities to make sure that everyone that participates is getting the most out of the program. For example, you may ask your clients to agree to maintain confidentiality of information they learn from other group members. Also, you may consider establishing a code of conduct governing how you expect group members to interact with one another (e.g., exercising respect towards one another).
Address your expectations for how you expect your clients to communicate with you and schedule with you. For example, you may prefer that clients email you, or you may prefer that clients contact you through a program like PracticeBetter. Alternatively, you may request that all questions are asked through a group Form or during Live Q&A sessions. This is up to you to decide and for you to incorporate into your contract. We include these prompts in our DIY form template so that you can consider what works best for you and revise the template accordingly. Here, you’ll also want to address your make-up class policy. For example, you could provide that there will be no make-up classes or that recorded versions of group meetings will be provided to those who miss a program session instead.
Fees and payment schedules; refunds and termination rights
A very important part of your group coaching agreement will be the fees that you decide to charge and when those fees are due by your clients. You’ll also want to think through the remedies you will maintain against your clients if your client doesn’t pay. Along these same lines, you’ll want to think through whether or not you want to allow your clients to terminate the program prior to the completion, and if you do allow an early termination of the contract, consider whether you will allow for refunds. There are many different ways to structure a refund policy, but the 3 biggest schools of thought we see are as follows:
- Allow a full refund for anyone that requests it. The idea here is that it is your goal to always have a happy customer, and if someone isn’t happy, then give them their money back and move on.
- Allow a partial refund that is either proportionate to the amount of the program completed at the time of completion or that involves a refund of something a little less than the pro rata portion of the class remaining to account for the upfront work it takes to onboard a new client.
- Allow for no refunds. This school of thought is that a client commits at the beginning of the group program, and they arguably took a spot from someone else that could have had it. They proceed with the program at their own risk, and you won’t have any obligation to refund them.
There are of course variations of the above, so the above options are just to get you thinking of what may be best for you. Our DIY contract templates go through many of these iterations with you so that you can decide what makes sense for your business and incorporate accordingly.
Limit Your Liability
Part of your group coaching agreement should contain language which limits your liability to your clients. As a starting point, we recommend limiting your liability to the fees you incurred from the client for the 3 months preceding the claim. This is usually a very manageable amount of exposure to have facing you in the event something were to go wrong. We also recommend limiting your liability to clients for any special or consequential type damages. Along these same lines, we recommend including provisions that act as a disclaimer and assumption of risk by your program participants.
Protect Your Intellectual Property
To the extent you incorporate your own intellectual property that you have developed as part of your group program (examples could be slide shows you created, handouts you created, unique methods or processes you created), it is important to incorporate a section in your group coaching contract that states that you are granting your program participants a limited license and right to utilize your intellectual property solely for them to participate in and enjoy the benefits of your programming, but expressly not to share those resources with non-paying friends, family, or colleagues, and especially not to have a right to re-sell any of that content as their own.
If you offering a group coaching program (or are thinking about offering one), we hope this article has demonstrated why it is critical for you to have a tailored Group Coaching Agreement contract for your program. We have you covered on this need with our Group Coaching Agreement Template available in our template shop that you can be fully confident in – drafted by two attorneys with over 2 decades of experience who are entrepreneurs and course creators themselves. Download our DIY Group Coaching Agreement template and have your course or membership protected in mere minutes.
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